Wednesday, February 26, 2003
corporate news report
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets Wednesday to scatter hundreds of demonstrators from the gates of a federal courthouse where four leftist political activists went on trial.
Helmeted police walking shoulder-to-shoulder dispersed some 200 protesters from a downtown Buenos Aires courthouse, where demonstrators marched to denounce the opening of the trial of four men belonging to leftist groups who were accused of inciting political violence.
It was the second day of street clashes in Buenos Aires.
Masked demonstrators responded to the volleys of tear gas by throwing rocks and sticks. As protesters scrambled to escape billowing clouds of tear gas, one television cameraman was hit in the face by a rubber bullet and car windshields were broken.
There were no other reports of injuries.
The violence delayed the opening of the trial of the four members of Quebracho, a group known for leading anti-government protests. The defendants are accused of possessing illegal weapons and inciting violent protests eight years ago.
The street tensions followed an outburst of violence Tuesday when police clashed with hundreds of squatters who defied government orders to abandon a rundown building in the city center. That protest left at least 16 people injured and led to 52 arrests.
The two days of clashes amounted to the worst outbreak of violence since police fought pitched street battles with anti-government demonstrators last June, killing two people. The unrest forced caretaker President Eduardo Duhalde to schedule elections for April 27, six months earlier than planned.
On Wednesday, police stood guard at another protest in suburban Buenos Aires as hundreds of jobless Argentines manned a roadblock demanding increased government assistance for the unemployed. No violence was reported, but protesters burned tires, beat drums and cut the key Pueyrredon bridge connecting the southern suburbs with the capital.